Lawsuit Filed to Halt BLM’s Scheduled Roundup and Removal of Wild Horses from Northwestern Colorado’s Herds

horse_photos.Par.85398.Image.500.375.1(photo from West Douglas: BLM)

Press Release for immediate release

Lawsuit Filed to Halt BLM’s Scheduled Roundup and Removal of Wild Horses from Northwestern Colorado’s Herds

Roundup Threatens to Zero out the West Douglas Herd

Washington DC – (Sept. 6, 2015) – Late Friday afternoon, a lawsuit was filed in federal court by The Cloud Foundation (TCF), Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF), The Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition (CWHBC), Dr. Don Moore and Toni Moore of Fruita, CO., and Barb Flores of Greeley, CO. to block the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposed round ups of wild horses from northwestern Colorado’s herds.

The lawsuit filed in United States District Court in Washington, D.C. by Valerie Stanley and Mara Hurwitt alleges that the BLM violated the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRHBA), by authorizing the removal of 167 wild horses from public lands in West Douglas Herd Area (WDHA) and Piceance East Douglas Herd Management Area (PEDHMA).  The BLM authorized the zeroing out of the WDHA and a significant reduction in the number of horses in PEDHMA without conducting proper environmental analyses and without making substantiated findings required by the WFRHBA.

For decades the Bureau of Land Management has attempted to obliterate the West Douglas Herd claiming “wild horses that reside in the WDHA are impacting the landscape and the ability to maintain a thriving, natural ecological balance.”  Our attorneys were successful in stopping BLM’s planned removal of wild horses from West Douglas in 2009. BLM’s Jan. 2015 Environmental Assessment, states “that all wild horses within or adjacent to the WDHA meet the statutory definition of excess animals, and therefore, consistent with the authority provided in 16 USC § 1333 (b) (2), the BLM shall immediately remove excess animals from the range.”

Also in question is the BLM’s extrapolated population estimate of 291 wild horses within the WDHA and an additional 74 horses outside the WDHA boundaries. Local residents of the area question the numbers issued by the BLM.  “During 2015 the largest number of wild horses we have seen during a day trip has been 20,” stated Toni Moore. “However, in January 2015 there were over 50 cows being fed hay on public lands within the herd area.”

“We have battled the destruction of this historic herd in the courts for decades,” states Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “As recently as 2009 the courts ruled against the BLM when District Court Judge Collyer enjoined the BLM from removing any wild horses from the herd,” she continues. “BLM’s historic scapegoating of wild horses is a smoke screen. Rangeland damage is caused by thousands of head of privately-owned livestock, not our publicly owned and theoretically protected wild horses.”

“Mustangs inhabited the West Douglas Herd Area (WDHA) long before Colorado was even a territory, let alone a state,” states Toni Moore, Board Member of The Cloud Foundation (TCF). In their Sept. 1, 1776 diary entry Spanish Explorer-Priests Dominguez and Escalante wrote about meeting Ute Indians riding horses in these valleys: “We set out from San Ramón toward the north, and having traveled three leagues through small valleys with abundant pasturage and thick groves of dwarf oak, we met about 80 Yutas [Utes] all on good horses, most of them being from the ‘rancheria’ to which we were going.”

“Using the BLM’s own statistics, the wild horses are outnumbered by a minimum of 4 to 1 by the welfare cattle allowed to graze on the horse’s range,” states R.T. Fitch, President and co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation. “The concept of the Federal Government destroying this herd to line the pockets of a few of their bedfellows ought to spark outrage in each and every American’s heart and soul. Enough is enough and we are making a stand.”

Director of Field Documentation for WHFF, Carol Walker says “The BLM must not be allowed to zero out this herd simply because it is ‘inconvenient’ to manage, or because it is pandering to cattle ranchers and extraction companies. This would set a very damaging precedent for our few remaining wild horses and burros.”

If allowed to go forward BLM’s roundup would reduce wild horse herds in Colorado to four, and the number of horses to 1150, compared to thousands of wild horses that once roamed the state.

 ###

 Media Contacts:

Paula Todd King

The Cloud Foundation

843-592-0720

paula@thecloudfoundation.org

Carol Walker

Director of Field Documentation

Wild Horse Freedom Federation

303-823-6642

www.LivingImagesCJW.com

www.WildHoofbeats.com

LINKS:

Complaint                 

BLM Plans Annihilation of Colorado’s Historic West Douglas Wild Horse Herd

BLM Press Release

West Douglas Herd Area Final EA

 The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a Colorado based 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros on our western public lands.

 Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) is a Texas based registered 501(c)(3) non-profit which puts people between America’s wild equids and extinction.

 The Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition (“CWHBC”) is a non-profit Colorado corporation, organized to educate the public and wild horse and burro adopters about wild horse issues and to protect wild horses and burros

 Ms. Toni Moore is a resident of the state of Colorado and is the Secretary/Treasurer of CWHBC and the Special Projects Coordinator of The Cloud Foundation, Inc. (“TCF”).

 Dr. Don Moore is an equine and small-animal veterinarian and has lived in or near the WDHA and PEDHMA most of his life.

 Barb Flores, a resident of Greeley, Colorado is Chair of the Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition. She has photographed and documented Colorado’s wild horse herds for over 20 years.

15 comments on “Lawsuit Filed to Halt BLM’s Scheduled Roundup and Removal of Wild Horses from Northwestern Colorado’s Herds

  1. BLM is not really interested in range conditions. No one believes the wild horses and burros are being removed because of range conditions or lack of water. The BLM has been trying to “zero out” (eliminate all wild horses from) the West Douglas HA for years and the agency makes it clear that energy development/oil drilling in the area and the desire to continue to allocate forage for livestock grazing are the reasons behind the agency’s desire to eliminate these horses.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is SO much wrong with this…aside from the repeated attempts to zero out the West Douglas horses for THE most idiotic of reasons, the White River Field Office cannot seem to leave these animals alone for any longer than a few years at a stretch.

    Most EAs dealing with these herds, particularly the West Douglas, simply recycle old data, illustrating an unwillingness to perform on-the-ground monitoring, although the aerial census is prolonged and very detailed. And those, like most, lack any visual proof of the counts.

    There is a huge extraction presence on these HMAs, and every time they build a pad, it costs the horses 10 to 20 acres in forage. Every pad requires a service road, costing additional acreage, with no recompense; the existing animals simply have to make do with less. Grazing periods in allotments are virtually year round, and overlap each and every month of the year; the only thing that changes is the amount of livestock allowed, and I’m doubtful that those restrictions are a priority…

    I hope the lawsuit succeeds on its merits. I hope White River loses yet again. And then I hope they start doing their JOB by monitoring these herds, instead of looking for ways to destroy them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wonder if anyone has given any serious thought to how a “thriving and natural ecological balance” can be sustained or even include gas/oil extraction pads and related traffic and contaminated water disposal.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Isn’t this the HMA that is featured in James Anaquad Kleinert’s Wild Horses and Renegades? He tells the story of a wild stallion named Traveler.

    Like

  4. We all toil hard to fund our horses. It’s a crime all our hard earned monies and the generosity of kind hard working people must be squandered in the Federal Courts. That money could be put to better use helping the horses and accommodating the will 80% of the people.

    Like

    • Interesting article, geri.
      So how long will it take for common sense to enter in? Coal is dirty – from the beginning to the end – yet we continue to keep removing & using it. Looking at the pictures of the mining – they compare pretty closely with the whole tar sand devastation. Obviously, Colorado’s governor wants coal to continue there!

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  5. As made clear by the Wild Horse and Burro Act’s implementing regulations, the BLM “may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock . . . if necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury.” 43 C.F.R. § 4710.5(a).

    Like

  6. To life: It is the right to the maintenance of the integrity of life systems and natural processes which sustain them, as well as the capacities and conditions for their renewal
    To the Diversity of Life: It is the right to the preservation of the differentiation and variety of the beings that comprise Earth, without being genetically altered, nor artificially modified in their structure, in such a manner that threatens their existence, functioning and future potential
    To water: It is the right of the preservation of the quality and composition of water to sustain life systems and their protection with regards to contamination, for renewal of the life of Earth and all its components
    To clean air: It is the right of the preservation of the quality and composition of air to sustain life systems and their protection with regards to contamination, for renewal of the life of Earth and all its components
    To equilibrium: It is the right to maintenance or restoration of the inter-relation, interdependence, ability to complement and functionality of the components of Earth, in a balanced manner for the continuation of its cycles and the renewal of its vital processes
    To restoration: It is the right to the effective and opportune restoration of life systems affected by direct or indirect human activities
    To live free of contamination: It is the right for preservation of Earth and any of its components with regards to toxic and radioactive waste generated by human activities

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